New York

Andrew Cuomo to Appear in Court Friday as Albany DA Moves to Drop Groping Case

It comes after the Albany district attorney said earlier this week he had dropped the case against the ex-governor because prosecutors wouldn't be able to "prove the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt"

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Andrew Cuomo is due to appear in court, albeit for a virtual session, on Friday as a judge considers the Albany district attorney's request to dismiss a criminal groping case against the former New York governor, who resigned in disgrace last August.

It comes after Albany County District Attorney David Soares asked Judge Holly Trexler earlier this week to dismiss the misdemeanor complaint,  The announcement from District Attorney David Soares on Tuesday was just three days before Cuomo's scheduled arraignment on the charge.

Trexler notified prosecution and defense lawyers Thursday that they will be required to appear virtually, along with Cuomo, for Friday's hearing.

In announcing he was dropping the charges, Soares said he would not be able to prove behind a reasonable doubt former Cuomo aide Brittany Commisso’s allegation that Cuomo groped her in the executive mansion in December 2020.

The one-page complaint filed in Albany City Court in late October accused Cuomo, 63, of forcible touching by putting his hand under a woman’s shirt on Dec. 7, 2020.

In his letter to the judge on dropping the charges, Soares wrote “statutory elements of New York law make this case impossible to prove.” He added that multiple government inquiries into Cuomo’s conduct had created “technical and procedural hurdles” regarding prosecutors’ obligations to disclose evidence to the defense.

Cuomo has denied Commisso’s allegation, telling attorney general investigators that “it would be an act of insanity" to do that. He has denied all misconduct charges leveled against him as it relates to sexual harassment of women.

There was no immediate comment Thursday from Cuomo.

The decision to discontinue criminal prosecution is unrelated to any possible civil liability, which is beyond the scope of a district attorney’s jurisdiction.

Cuomo's arraignment was initially postponed from November until January after the Albany County district attorney told the court that the misdemeanor sex crime complaint against the former New York governor is "potentially defective."

In November, Soares, told the judge in Albany City court that the complaint was "unilaterally and inexplicably filed" by Albany Sheriff Craig Apple in the middle of an investigation by Soares' office, and that it excluded key testimony from the accuser.

As the Albany sheriff is standing by his decision to charge former Gov. Andrew Cuomo with groping, the attorney for the alleged victim is now weighing in on the criminal charge. NBC New York's Jonathan Dienst reports.
Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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